Taxes from Rich to Poor
December 17, 2002
Folks, the push is now on. Over the last couple of weeks,
the mainstream press has repeated the pronouncements of the
right-wing think tanks that the poor don't pay enough in taxes.
And the latest, from the Washington Post, is that the upcoming
newest policy shift of the Bushies, with regard to taxes,
is that the rich pay too much in taxes.
Where's the surprise in this? Kevin Phillips, in his Wealth
and Democracy, provides ample evidence that, over the last
couple of decades, that the very wealthy, in their effective
tax rates, pay slightly less in tax percentage of income than
do the middle class. The working poor pay less percentage
in taxes now, but that's because they have little to pay in
without becoming clients of the systems the right-wingers
want to destroy; those safety nets are, for the moment, still
in place, meager though they may be.
Phillips also describes the decline of empire in very stark
terms. The arrogance of acquisitive war and the deficits such
wars create, the dependency upon speculative markets, all
combine with the attempts of the wealthy to manipulate government
to concentrate their wealth, at the expense of nation and
The latest attempt by the right wing to shift tax load to
the lower classes is nothing new. It's been going on since
Roosevelt's New Deal. Now, Bush tells us we're in the midst
of war, but doesn't tell us that the budget is heading for
penury due to open-ended presidential declarations of war--against
anyone and everyone who has a grudge against us. The latest
spin, of course, is that this shift in taxation is necessary
to simplify the tax code. There's no mention that about 90%
of the tax code today is devoted to carefully drafted loopholes
for individual corporations or industries or the wealthy.
In times past, we have faced greater problems--in 1944, for
example--when we faced world war, of a more desperate kind
than the President suggests now in the face of terrorism.
But, if we are in the midst of war, and need simplification
of tax codes and of government, that sacrifice is necessary
to win both economic and military adventures, then let's do
the simple and decent thing--let's return the tax code to
its 1944 standards. Then, the country at war accepted the
necessity to pay for the war effort and made sacrifices, at
both personal and corporate levels. The tax code then was,
indeed, simpler. Corporations paid their fair share of taxes.
The wealthy paid more taxes because they were most likely
to lose their wealth if the country were to lose a war. Everyone,
grudgingly, was, if not happy, then satisfied with the arrangement.
Now, the right-wing extremists are not happy with the situation.
They want less taxes on the rich, though the rich pay much
less now than they did in 1944. Corporations now pay about
80% less in taxes than they did during the last major war,
even though they largely benefit by government spending for
Right-wing conservatives have long wanted to destroy the
aims of the Great Society and the New Deal, and now see never-ending
war and nationalism as the means to that end. But, they don't
want the rich to suffer in any way by war, by economic upheaval,
by corporate fraud. They simply want to enable and further
a system which has stagnated the gains of the middle and lower
classes of the country in the last thirty years. Phillips
reports that, in the last couple of decades, the wealthy have
seen their real wealth increase by some 150%, while the middle
class have seen 9-10% increases. The working poor, at which
proposed tax simplification is targeted, saw no gains at all.
In this regard, Bush the Younger is an enabler of addicts
to wealth. Corporations and the top couple of percent of American
families are cheering, but the rest of us should be worrying
about what the next two years will bring, in economic terms
alone. Al Gore has recently announced his decision not the
run for President, and while he's said, "this is not the best
time," underlying his decision is the recognition that 4-8
years of Bush and the right will create an economy and political
nightmare which no Democrat can expect to undo in four years.
Gore, like other careful observers in the Democratic Party,
is waiting for the Republican right-wing and "bipartisan"
Democrats to destroy the country's economy and the country's
constitutional base. After widespread riots in the streets,
calculating Democrats will outline their political aims to
return the country to its previous stability, however tenuous
that stability may have been. Unfortunately, the changes and
debts wrought by the Bushies will be too much to overcome,
economically and politically.
By that time, it may be too late. Kevin Phillips, the Republican
who did voting analysis for the Nixon administration, now
writes in favor of progressive economic and tax policy, and
knows what the current administration's policies on war, taxes
and social programs will wreak, because he's researched the
same policies in previously failed empires. Some things, under
the sun, never change. Wars of aggrandizement and their attendant
expenses, combined with a legislative paean to the rich and
a diminution of production in favor of speculation, result
in the destruction of democracy, and the empire the right
wing desires so much.
The names of legislators in favor of an empire based solely
on increasing wealth of the wealthy are legion. Many of them
are now household names. They will vote for increasing taxation
of the poor and the middle class, because the rich have paid
their way into the national legislature. The only correction
available to the ordinary voter is to vote those whores to
wealth out of the very offices which enable them to vote against
the ordinary voter's interests, locally and nationally.
punpirate is a New Mexico writer who thinks that Kevin
Phillips will make a damned good independent.